This article traces four contested identity claims that carry gender meanings into politics and express the gendered tensions awakened along specific dimensions of institutional change across the past twenty years. The cultural definition of the German nation in the face of immigration, the integration of the German state in a transnational project of making a single Europe, the economic restructuring of unification and its effects on the resources and opportunities available on each side of the former wall, and political changes in the representation of women in state offices, by parties and in national policy-making all reflect continuing struggles over the institutionalized boundaries of inclusion and exclusion as a nation, an imagined community. All of these processes engage passionate feelings about gender relations and have implications for the ordinary lives of women and men as citizens and family members in the new Berlin Republic.
Myra Marx Ferree
Considering Angela Merkel as a female candidate raises questions of the extent to which political leadership has become degendered in recent decades. Three issues of gender and politics are considered here: the changes in expectations for women in public life, the shift in defining what is a "woman's interest" and how women may represent such interests, and the degree to which women challenge the "old boys' networks" with alternative connections to women and provide a critical mass rather than just an individual in office. The implications of each of these dimensions for assessing the impact of Merkel on German politics are considered. I suggest that her role can be seen as a feminist one, even if her own politics are not.